Do you desire discernment?

From miracle videos to fake news, discerning truth online makes the difference between being easy to inspire or easy to deceive. For some a shared video is perfect proof that God exists, for others it is a cleverly staged trick. How can you tell the difference? Is that even possible when you are not there to see for yourself?

10 points for growing in discernment

Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)

14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Imagine you are watching a video online and it shows what seems to be a miracle. Your spirit wants to rejoice that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and believe what you are seeing but then from your soul comes that voice of doubt. How can we know if this is real? Now our soul is naturally equipped with doubt and fear to protect us from danger in a fallen world, but when it comes to the things of the kingdom of God, we need to be able to discern without the interference of the voices of doubt and fear.

So how does that work?

As it says in Hebrews 5:14 – discernment is a power that comes from constant practice.
And anyone who ever learnt an instrument or a language or who practiced for a test knows that practice implies actively comparing your current performance with some higher standard. There is a right answer which you are trying to remember. A right note that you are trying to hit.

So first of all you need to know that you are aiming for truth and that truth can be known. Then you need some tools or a checklist that you can work with until it becomes second nature. So here is my 10 point discernment checklist that will help you to discern if someone’s ministry, miracle video or share is genuine or are they a spreader of fake-news?

Discernment checklist

  1. Christ-centred – does this post, person or film point you to Jesus Christ? 
  2. Compassion – do you sense that the creator/producer/minister shares God’s compassion for people?
  3. Character of the minister – do they appear humble, kind and enthusiastic or deceptive, manipulative and calculating? 
  4. Click-baiters and career critics – is this person known for anything apart from their online criticism 
  5. Compulsion – is content being published out of compulsion – the need to be present in social media, the need to raise the ministry profile to raise funds etc. –  or is the content being shared out of genuine conviction
  6. Check it out  Is there a physical address? Can anyone show up and attend a meeting? Talk to a member? Interview an eye-witness? Are videos live streamed or edited? 
  7. Continuity?
    – in videos. Do you notice cuts/edits that create deceptive associations
    –  in ministry. do you see consistent pattern of serving people/God or is it a one-off?
  8. Considered – the opposite of healthy continuity is compulsive content sharing. Many people share stuff without prayerfully considering whether they are adding to the conversation or to the noise. This makes social media noise floor rise and also leads to share of fake news.
  9. Faithful – is the minister faithful to the ministry, the Lord and their family, and friends? 
  10. Free – Jesus said “Freely, you have received, freely give!” Is there force or freedom? Does it produce faith or fear?
  11. Fruit – that’s the bonus one and a topic for another post.

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